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What is Dietary Fiber?

By S. Mithra
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Plant materials that are indigestible to humans are a complex carbohydrate known as dietary fiber. Our bodies need roughage to properly digest food and eliminate waste because the bulky substance cleans the colon as it makes its way through our digestive tract. Dietary fiber comes from vegetables, fruit, grain, and legumes.

The two types of dietary fiber are soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, like the pectin found in fruit. Insoluble fiber, such as cellulose from grain, doesn't dissolve in water. Examples of soluble fiber are many vegetables, barley, oatmeal, rye, and fruits like peaches, grapes, berries, and pears. It's important to eat the skin of fruits like apples, since that is where most of the fiber resides. Whole grains, pasta, bran, brown rice, seeds, bran, beans, and a few vegetables like carrots and celery, provide insoluble fiber.

Proper amounts of dietary fiber improve health in ways other than digestion. Studies have shown that fiber seems to lower cholesterol, in combination with a balanced diet. There is also an inexplicable link between a diet high in fiber and a lowered risk of heart disease. In the stomach, fiber seems to affect the speed with which sugar enters the bloodstream. This means our blood sugar levels stay more consistent, our insulin doesn't work as hard, and we benefit from a reduced risk of developing diabetes.

Since fiber is not technically a nutrient, there is no Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). However, health care experts have declared we need .7-1.2 oz (20 - 35 grams) of fiber per day. Yet Americans only average 1/2 oz (15 grams) a day. Fresh food is the best source of fiber because it contains other important vitamins. If fresh food is not available, dietary supplements of fiber will suffice. A gradual increase, over several weeks, in your fiber intake will ensure you don't suffer any discomfort. In combination with a diet low in sugar, fat, and cholesterol, roughage improves many aspects of health.

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Discussion Comments

By oasis11 — On Dec 28, 2010

Comfyshoes-I have eaten that cereal. It is really good. I think beans are not only an excellent source of protein but they are also rich in fiber.

I recently tried a product called Vita Tops. It is a nutrient rich flat top muffin that also includes 8 grams of insoluble fiber.

Foods high is insoluble fiber are whole grains, vegetables, and nuts. Soluble dietary fiber is consisted of beans and fruits like bananas.

Insoluble fiber aids in eliminating waste from the body through the colon. This type of fiber lowers your risk of colon cancer.

Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables along with whole grains gives you an opportunity to take advantage of a variety of high fiber foods that will ease your digestive tract and allow you to become healthier as a result.

Even if you are not trying to lose weight eating foods with high fiber content allow you to live a healthier lifestyle.

By comfyshoes — On Dec 27, 2010

Jabuka- Wow I did not know that. I know that a high fiber diet promotes weight loss and aids in lowering one’s cholesterol as well reducing one’s risk of various types of cancer mainly colon cancer.

Foods with high fiber content also stabilize blood sugar which helps people afflicted with diabetes control their blood sugar levels.

Also high fiber diet is linked to weight loss because these foods are so filling that you tend to eat less and that is why you lose weight.

High fiber diet foods include oatmeal, chili, and some cereals. For example, a single serving of Kashi Go Lean has 8 grams of dietary fiber and it is low in fat. Foods with high fiber content control your appetite so it is difficult to overeat. It acts as a natural appetite suppressant.

By jabuka — On Dec 01, 2008

Dietary fiber helps us breath easier. It is a good idea, for a number of reasons, to start the day with a high fiber cereal, or oatmeal. Dietary fiber seems to increase the amount of oxygen taken in by lungs. It also helps prevent or reduce lung inflammation.

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